The Mummies of Ürümchi

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W. W. Norton & Company, 2000 - History - 240 pages
16 Reviews
In the museums of Urumchi, the wind-swept regional capital of the Uyghur Autonomous Region in Western China, a collection of ancient mummies date back as far as 4,000 years -- contemporary to the famous Egyptian mummies, but even more beautifully preserved, especially their clothing. Surprisingly, these prehistoric people are not Asian but Caucasoid -- tall and large-nosed and blond with thick beards and round eyes (probably blue). What were these blond Caucasians doing in the heart of Asia? Where did they come from and what language did they speak? Might they be related to a "lost tribe" of Indo-Europeans known from later inscriptions? Few gifts are to be found in the graves of Urumchi, making it difficult for archaeologists to pinpoint cultural connections from clues offered by pottery and tools. But their clothes -- woolens that rarely survive more than a few centuries -- have been preserved as brightly hued as the day they were woven.

Elizabeth Wayland Barber describes these remarkable mummies, their clothing, their shepherding ways, and their path to this remote, mysterious, and forbidding place. She pieces together their history and peculiar Western connections from both what she saw in Urumchi and the testimony of explorers who traveled along the Silk Road a century earlier.

  

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Review: The Mummies of Urumchi

User Review  - Janet - Goodreads

Loved this book and then went to visit Urumchi to see for myself. Indeed these mummies are everything Elizabeth had to say about them, but when you are really up close you can see a humanity to these ... Read full review

Review: The Mummies of Urumchi

User Review  - Milele - Goodreads

Amazing. This is a factual, non-fiction book, yet it explores physical evidence, linguistic and historical evidence for societies in and around the Tarim Basin in Western China, in something akin to a ... Read full review

Contents

Preface
11
Mystery Mummies
17
A Man with Ten Hats
23
Plus Three Women and a Baby
47
The Beauty of Loulan
71
The Early Explorers
89
Tokharians and Other Hairy Barbarians
111
Hami and Hallstatt
131
The Oasis Hoppers and Their Kin
149
Pulses in the Heart of a Continent
169
Sands of the Silk Road Sands of Time
197
Notes on Sources
215
Bibliography
227
Index
233
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Elizabeth Wayland Barber is the author of Women's Work and The Mummies of Ürümchi. Professor emerita of archaeology and linguistics at Occidental College, she lives in California.

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